A WEEK of strike action by a trade union is underway today, following disputes over trains being operated solely by the driver.
RMT Union members at South Western Railway have gone on strike from today, June 18, until Saturday, June 22.
The strike has forced SWR to run an amended timetable through the Portsmouth area – with strikes also due to affect the Royal Ascot racehorse meeting, music concerts at Hampton Court, and a gig by rock band Metallica at Twickenham on Thursday.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Our members have been left with no choice but to go ahead with strike action.
‘They are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up to our expectations on the guard guarantee.
‘Worse than that, the company have refused to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard, fuelling fears amongst our members of a stitch up.
‘That situation has been compounded by an insistence that future operational models will be governed by the protection of company profits and not the safety of the travelling public.’
SWR has responded by saying that it remains ‘committed’ to finding a solution.
A spokesman said: ‘It's very disappointing that despite having had dates in the diary for what we hoped would be further constructive talks, the RMT union decided to call disruptive strike action over the course of five days.
‘The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train which is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement.
‘We want to move the conversation on to how we operate our new trains and take advantage of the new technology on board to benefit our customers.’
Today, the service running between Portsmouth Harbour and London Waterloo will be limited to two trains per hour – one slow and one fast service.
Between Portsmouth and Southampton, there will be one train every two hours between Southampton Central and Fratton, with no stops at Swaythling.
Trains will also run hourly from Portsmouth and Southsea to Winchester, excluding Micheldever station.